Social Justice at the Heart of Liverpool

Sarah Cupitt
Jun 4 · 3 min read
UOW South Western Sydney student Adi Holmes smiling down on Bigge Street. Photo: Paul Jones

The poster child for social justice inspiring a whole community to pursue their purpose

Liverpool’s larger than life mural is officially complete! Artist Claire Foxton has been busy transforming the giant wall on Bigge Street opposite Liverpool Station to illustrate Adi Holmes’ story of strength and determination. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong, Professor Alison Jones officially launched the vibrant mural at the South Western Sydney campus on the 6th of March. The artwork required manoeuvring on a massive eight-storey façade and using over 30 litres of paint in the blistering heat over nine days.

Adi has become immortalised in the 28-metre-tall mural, in the heart of Liverpool’s community. The mother-of-two moved to Australia from Fiji eight years ago passionate about seeking justice for those without a voice. She was inspired to become a human rights lawyer after her involvement as an activist in the Free West Papua Movement and volunteering for Amnesty International. Adi is now studying a double degree in International Studies and Laws, majoring in Human Rights.

“I became a mother and had my first child when I was only 19, so I had to grow up very quickly and learn things on my feet. I had to put aside my studies and be a full-time wife and mother. That experience taught me a great number of skills and virtues that I would not have otherwise learnt if my life had taken a different path,” said Adi.

The canvas is enormous, and in perspective, the width of one eye is about Claire’s height. Photo: Aristo Risi

Social justice is what fuels Professor Jones to work with communities, hence why she funded the mural with her budget for community engagement activities as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Communities).

“What we’re hoping to achieve is that demonstrable commitment of UOW to Liverpool and the South Western Sydney community and that people’s interest will be peaked by seeing the mural and find out a little more about the lady behind the story and the university the behind the lady,” Professor Jones said.

Adi Holmes positioned between Artist Claire Foxton and her embodiment of social justice. Photo: Paul Jones

Claire graduated in 2009, unaware of returning as a successful former student with the opportunity to be involved in the Wollongong Strong project. She is now a graphic designer and artist who has painted over 30 murals across Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s the people that make a community — not the big blank walls. My work is about celebrating humanity and honouring the people who, collectively, make a place what it is,” said Claire.

As someone who represents strength itself, Adi Holmes hopes that the story of her journey to university will inspire and motivate others to pursue their aspirations and be empowered through education, to find their purpose and drive the social, cultural and environmental change they wish to see in the world.

Sarah Cupitt

Written by

University student, journalist and writer who’s interested in working with people who have amazing stories to tell. Secretly always looking for stellar scoops!

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